According to a post on the Newberg Report Forums, here are the Rangers strikeout rankings from the last several years:
2007: 3rd in team strikeouts
2006: 4th in team strikeouts
2005: 1st in team strikeouts
2004: 3rd in team strikeouts
2003: 4th in team strikeouts
2002: 5th in team strikeouts
2001: 4th in team strikeouts
Taking the 2001-2007 seasons (6.5+ seasons worth of data), the team leading the American League in strikeouts? YOUR TEXAS RANGERS!
I know we have talked about this before, but I have to revisit it. How can the Rangers be this consistently poor at the plate; Low OBP, Low Average, cannot score runs away from Arlington, high strikeouts, etc. – and yet, they have the highest paid, longest tenured hitting coach in baseball?
I know that if the pitching staff was this consistently mediocre, the pitching coach would have been fired several times. But somehow, he who walks on water, Rudy Jaramillo, gets a few quotes from players who say how great he is, and everyone around here tells us how the Emperor has new clothes. I don’t get it.
I understand it isn’t all his fault. Especially now, where the Rangers have very few MLB hitters in their lineup. But, at what point do we look at the hitting instruction and say perhaps we should consider a new approach?
Now, as you read this, several people are constructing emails to inform me that I don’t know baseball if I would suggest that Jaramillo should go, but I am willing to once again take this chance.
Another night; another night of strikeouts from our Rangers …
The last thing the Rangers needed after being dismantled by Minnesota Twins lefty Johan Santana, who collected 17 strikeouts Sunday, was to face Baltimore Orioles lefty Erik Bedard.
Isn't there some rule about kicking a man when he's down?
Texas wasn't kicked so much as K'd in a 6-2 loss to Baltimore on Tuesday. The Rangers struck out 11 times, all against Bedard, and their two-game total of 30 strikeouts is the second-highest total for consecutive games in team history, two shy of the record of 32 set in 1997.
Facing Santana and Bedard back-to-back is no enviable draw, and the Rangers seemed overmatched in both games.
"They're aces," said second baseman Ian Kinsler, who was 0-for-4 but was one of two Rangers starters who didn't strike out. "There's only four in the deck, and they're one of them.
"We just need to bear down and not give in as easy. I feel like we're kind of giving in right now and giving our at-bats up a little bit, especially against aces.... These guys aren't striking out 15, 17 every night against every opponent they face. It seems like, when they throw against us, we're punching out 15 times."
Actually, Bedard and Santana are Nos. 1 and 2 in strikeouts in the American League, respectively, so the Rangers aren't alone. But though Santana and Bedard are two premier left-handed pitchers, the Rangers have a predisposition for striking out that helps pad the two aces' totals.
Texas has struck out 938 times in 124 games this season, for an average of 7.56 strikeouts per game, far more than in 1997, when the team struck out a club-record 1,116 times (6.89 per game). At their current pace, the Rangers would strike out 1,224 times this season.
"The type of guys I'm sending up there right now, they're big swingers and they swing and miss a lot," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
"We're just going to have to deal with it because that's the players I have to put out there."
Tiki Barber and Eli in a cat fight …
Tiki Barber wanted a more intense, fiery Eli Manning. The New York Giants quarterback gave Tiki what he wanted in a loud ripping voice on Tuesday.
Two days after being criticized on national television by Barber for a lack of strong leadership, Manning ripped his former teammate and current NBC football analyst for distracting the team last season with his early retirement announcement and his criticism of coach Tom Coughlin.
"I guess I'm just happy for Tiki that he's making a smooth transition into the TV world," Manning said. "You know, I'll be interested to see if he has anything to say [about a team] besides the Giants, and what his comments will be on that."
Normally reserved and never one to criticize a coach or teammate, Manning seemed to enjoy going after Barber, the Giants' all-time leading rusher who retired after last season at age 31 to pursue a television career.
Speaking during the halftime show of the Sunday Night Football game between the Giants and Baltimore Ravens, Barber had said that Manning's attempt to lead an offensive meeting in the 12th week of the last season was "comical" at times.
Manning didn't find the comment funny.
"It's just one of those deals. I'm not going to lose any sleep about what Tiki has to say," Manning said. "I guess I could have questioned his leadership skills last year with calling out the coach and having articles about him retiring in the middle of the season, and he's lost the heart [to play].
"As a quarterback you're reading that your running back has lost the heart to play the game and it's about the 10th week," Manning said. "I can see that a little bit at times. But I'm not going to get concerned. I'm going to go out there and play ball."
Larry Johnson signs …for way below Leonard Davis money…
Holdout running back Larry Johnson agreed to a five-year contract extension and joined the Kansas City Chiefs for practice Tuesday, surprising teammates who broke into scattered cheers when he jogged unannounced onto the field.
"Lar-ry! Lar-ry!" many players chanted. They had already been practicing for about 45 minutes when No. 27 suddenly appeared in their midst and began running plays after a holdout of 25 days.
The 27-year-old Johnson's new contract, which runs through 2012, includes $19 million guaranteed -- $12 million in signing bonus and $7 million in guaranteed salary. The total value of the deal is $43.2 million; the Chiefs are counting the salary Johnson was scheduled to make this season and consider the contract to be for six years at $45 million.
After practice, Johnson quickly dressed and left without speaking with reporters. A team spokesman said Johnson would hold a news conference Wednesday. Chiefs president and general manager Carl Peterson said a fine of $14,280 per day for missing 25 days of training would be paid, meaning the holdout cost Johnson about $357,000.
But Peterson joked that with his new deal, Johnson would have no difficulty paying up.
"I think there'll be a little left," he said.
Peterson said Johnson called him Monday night "and wanted to chat."
"We met privately," he said. "I could see that he very, very much wanted to get on the field. He explained that to me, that he wanted to be out here with his teammates. I don't know if I've ever seen a guy sign his contract that fast. But he wanted to get out here today and get going."
Catching up with Bill Cowher …
Bill Cowher’s summers as an adult have all been in N.F.L. training camps: as a linebacker, an assistant coach or, for the last 15 seasons, as the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He resigned in January, was hired by CBS Sports as a studio analyst for “The NFL Today,” and in a network conference room yesterday displayed a calmness at odds with his excitable sideline demeanor.
Cowher said his current state of relaxation reaffirmed his decision to leave the sidelines and that he did not miss coaching or training camp. “I don’t see myself coaching anytime in the near future,” he said. He did not define that time frame, insisting that his weekend focus would be on his CBS job, and that for the remaining five days each week he would be a husband and a father.
“I’ll come up Saturdays for production meetings, have dinner with my daughters who are at Princeton, come in Sunday and be with guys who think they know football,” he said with his studio partners — James Brown, Boomer Esiason, Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe — sitting around a conference table at CBS’s N.F.L. seminar.
Cowher is the fourth former N.F.L. coach to work for the CBS program, following George Seifert, the former San Francisco 49ers coach who was dismissed by CBS after the 1998 season; Jerry Glanville, who worked for three seasons; and Mike Ditka, who worked for two.
Like any successful coach who takes a career detour into television analysis, Cowher, who is 50, will be the focus of speculation about his return to the sidelines as coaches are fired during and after the season.
Bill Parcells, now at ESPN, was a target of rumors, especially about the Tampa Bay job, while working for NBC Sports, his employer after he coached the Giants to their Super Bowl victory in 1991. Cowher will inevitably be viewed as a successor to Giants Coach Tom Coughlin if Coughlin falters this season.
Cowher said the TV lifestyle suited him for now and that it gave him a respite from the onerous workload of coaching. “Football’s been a big part of my life,” he said. “When you’re coaching, it’s your life.”
This week’s Aggie Insider …
This AI began as a glance at old quotes from Augusts past — to show how they all pretty much read the same this time of year.
The ones about how the strength coach (whoever it is at the time) has gotten the team stronger, leaner and faster in the offseason. The ones about how the team has better chemistry now and the players hang out more, unlike years past when they apparently avoided each other like the plague.
The ones about how this year’s set of defenders are dead-set on returning the “Wrecking Crew” to its glory days of old (even if those days weren’t always glorious — although the inner romantic won’t allow us to realize it).
I was worn out about halfway through the research of digging up quotes like, “He’s much more confident in what he’s doing than last year at this time. Last year, early on, he probably ran more on his instincts.”
(Coach Dennis Franchione on ... Courtney Lewis in 2004).
You get the point. There’s almost a sweetness and innocence to this time of year — every year. Everyone’s undefeated. Even the good folks at Baylor are in a good mood — and hopeful.
Optimism abounds. Fanciful speculation runs wild. Will Texas A&M finish 13-1 or 12-2? Or, with the apparently unbeatable backfield of Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson, will the Aggies finish 14-0?
In the end, I opted for a rundown of the first couple of weeks of practice, in case you missed a few of these nuggets. And, with a nod to colleague and eminent Big 12 beat writer Tim Griffin and his Big 12 Insider—– this goes on a bit:
•I started camp with a request for heralded linebacker Anthony Lewis. At night and on deadline for a story that I had to turn that evening, I asked A&M defensive coordinator Gary Darnell about Lewis’s progress.
He pretty quickly turned the conversation to Matt Featherston, another sophomore linebacker who’s apparently tearing it up in practice. That’s nice, I replied, but I gotta write about Lewis. Like — now.
Darnell’s point: Keep an eye on Featherston. At 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, he’s built like A&M’s Wrecking Crew linebackers of old (aw, the glory days!). I felt better this past week when Franchione and Darnell finally sang Lewis’s praise. Whew!
By the way, Lewis says he first heard the term, “Wrecking Crew,” back home in Haltom City in the form of a letter from A&M. It asked him to come be a part of the Wrecking Crew.
•Franchione is hesitant to claim Lane and Goodson form the best backfield that he’s ever owned — at least to this point. I can’t blame him. Franchione reminded us that he coached LaDainian Tomlinson (only the best player in the NFL right now) and Basil Mitchell (another guy who spent a couple of years in the league) at the same time at TCU.
Franchione did say he's never had the combination of size and speed that Lane and Goodson offer.
•Darnell said Franchione isn’t given enough credit for his “masterful way of balancing” what the Aggies do on offense with what they do on defense. Hmm. Never thought of it that way.
•Darnell admitted that “last year I was petrified of the big play.” So the Aggies ran an extremely basic defense. Linebacker Misi Tupe says to expect more blitzing this year. That’s another quote that always seems to recycle this time of year.
•Quarterback Stephen McGee says he realizes that everybody wants the ball on offense.
“You don’t go out there thinking, I have to throw it to this guy or that guy,” he says. “But trying to get everyone involved is in the back of your mind.”
•Defensive end Chris Harrington says the Aggies aren’t afraid of a tough schedule that features road games at Miami, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri.
“Every football player wants a challenge,” Harrington says. “We’re prepared to meet it head on.”
Harrington says players Franchione recruited “don’t cut corners” in getting ready for the season and games — unlike some guy who were part of the program prior to the coach’s arrival in December 2002.
I understand that it can be tough to mix players from different coaching regimes. So, with all of Franchione’s players now on hand, that’s no longer an excuse if things go south.
•Lane says he’s lost about 15 pounds, and is down to 268. Whatever his weight, he definitely appears trimmer than at the end of last season. I never figured out how a guy could put on weight during a season, but somehow Lane turned the trick last year.
Yes, it is just a friendly, But since the USA never wins in Europe, Let’s Get R Done today …
Landon Donovan could become the United States' career scoring leader when the Americans play Sweden in an exhibition today. He is tied with Eric Wynalda on 34 goals.
Donovan's last competitive games in Europe for the national team were at the World Cup in Germany last year, when they Americans didn't survive the first round.
"In the past we haven't played very well in Europe," Donovan said Tuesday. "So for us it's another opportunity to do well against a European team in Europe. Obviously, the game doesn't mean anything toward anything. But it's a very good experience for us."
Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley agreed.
"I think we won once or twice in Europe in the past five years or something like that," Beasley said. "It's going to be tough tomorrow. We're trying to change it. That's why we play more games in Europe, to get our players more experience. Hopefully that (win) can come Wednesday."
Up to 13 players from the United States' CONCACAF Gold Cup squad could be in uniform today at Ullevi Stadium. The Americans won the tournament in June, beating Mexico in the final in Chicago.
The U.S. is 10-1-3 in 2007, and Coach Bob Bradley is making his first trip to Europe with the team. "We have two big goals," he said. "To challenge some experienced players to take bigger roles - players like Carlos Bocanegra, Landon Donovan, Tim Howard and DaMarcus Beasley - and to get young players into the side - players like Benny Feilhaber, Jonathan Bornstein and Michael Bradley."
More on the Sweden match…
For all the talk about David Beckham playing against Germany and then racing back to play for the Galaxy, the same dilemma lies in front of Landon Donovan as the 25-year-old figures to feature for a tough U.S. team in Goteborg today.
Bob Bradley has assembled quite a squad for the friendly, grabbing eight players from England, four from Major League Soccer, three from the Bundesliga and four others that are spread across Europe. It combines some of the best veterans of the team with some young rising talent.
Donovan could break the U.S. scoring record if he finds the back of the net against Sweden. Donovan has scored 34 goals, which ties him on the list with Eric Wynalda and he could also break Wynalda's mark for goals in a season, which stands at nine.
Say what you want about Donovan, but the guy has been scoring goals, even if most of those are after his OCD rituals before penalty kicks.
It's the first trip back to Europe for the U.S. team since the World Cup and I am anxious to see how they respond to playing on the continent again. They've looked impressive at home and I like that Bradley is now willing to take the club on the road to face top quality competition.
The match begins at 2:30 and I'll try to have live commentary with your comments while the match is going on, I just need my five-month-old to cooperate with me.
Click Here for Unintentional Comedy …
This is for Dan